Fantasy Advice

I Don't Worry About My Starting Lineup - Here's Why You Shouldn't Either

By July 13, 2014No Comments

The build up to fantasy draft season is unlike anything else. Countless hours spent sifting through stats, articles, and rankings. It’s addictive. Though you’ll certainly spend some time thinking about waiver wire pick ups and in-season strategy, the main idea is to identify what you’d like to accomplish on draft day (besides getting drunk with your friends).

So when you get to your fantasy draft and the ball gets rolling, what do you do? How do you describe your strategy? Hopefully, you’re including the word “value” in there somewhere, as finding inefficiencies in the way your league is valuing players is the key to a good draft. And hopefully you’re not including the phrase “starting lineup” in there, as worrying about who you’re going to start at every position for the year should not be particularly high on your priority list.

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but I’ll explain.

A Quick Disclaimer

Despite the picture, there is nothing in this article about Rob Gronkowski. I just love Gronk.

Another Quick Disclaimer

If you’re a casual fantasy footballer, and you want the comfort and convenience of knowing who you’re starting every single week, that is completely fine. Plenty of people (probably most) play fantasy football this way, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

This article, though, is not for you. This article is for those of you who are willing to dive a little deeper into the fantasy football world, and are willing to put in some work to hopefully get some results.

Now That We Have That Out Of The Way…

...Let’s get into the interesting part of this. If you’re like me, you’ve probably had this thought process in the past at the 7th round of your draft: “Well, I’ve got my quarterback, my two running backs, my two wide receivers, and my flex already. So I need to draft a tight end here.” Sound familiar?

Maybe you already had the tight end, so you had to draft your flex. Or you had the flex and needed a quarterback. It’s all the same idea. This is called “filling your lineup,” and it’s how I drafted for the first couple years of my fantasy career. At first glance, it seems like the most logical thing to do.

Why would I draft bench players before guys who I’m going to start? In reality, it’s the wrong way to approach drafting, and that’s because it doesn’t take positional value or market value into account.

Stop Pidgeonholing Yourself

The bad thing about filling your lineup is that it pidgeonholes you into drafting specific positions no matter what. Let’s say you get to round 7 and need a tight end. Your league went tight end crazy, and 8 of them have gone off the board already. If you decide to fill your lineup, you’re taking a tight end that’s probably worth a 9th or 10th round pick in the 8th round.

You’re also giving up the opportunity to take an 8th round (or maybe 7th round if someone fell) value at another position. That’s called inefficient fantasy drafting. By saying “I need to take a certain position in this round,” you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage.

The counterpoint to this is pretty simple: “I need a tight end, and what if more come off the board?” Let’s think about this for a second. If 8 people already drafted tight ends, there’s not many more that are going to be drafted, and not too many people in a standard league are going to roster two tight ends.

Would you rather get the 9th tight end in the draft for more than his asking price, or would you rather get the 11th tight end off the board for a bargain in the 12th round and an 8th round WR or RB? If you’re drafting a tight end this late you should be streaming them anyway (though that's a discussion for a different day), so I would hope the answer is the latter.

The Exceptions to the Rule

There are always exceptions to this. If you get to the 7th round with no tight end on your roster, and the best value on the board is a tight end, then go ahead and grab him. You shouldn’t go out of your way to avoid filling your lineup. You just shouldn’t make it your first priority.

So when you’re planning your fantasy football draft day strategy (Bud or Coors? Or maybe PBRs?) this summer, don’t worry about it. Figure out where you value each player and where the market values each player. Or just skim a magazine the morning of. Either way I guess.

Like this idea? Hate it? Think filling your lineup is essential? Love fantasy football magazines? Let me know! As always, I’d love to talk fantasy football.

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Nick Walsh